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Study: Men have better sense of direction than women

Are men or women better navigators? It’s the guys, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara recently conducted a study, published in the Memory & Cognition journal, to determine which group is better at directions. 

To do so, they conducted two small studies. In the first one, they asked 68 participants to find their way through a computer maze to reach designated locations. They were also required to answer questions about their sense of direction, navigation strategies and whether they played video games. 

In the second one, 72 participants were given a slightly different maze. Unlike the first one, this one did not include “distal landmarks,” such as trees or mountains. However, these subjects were still asked to complete a questionnaire.

After analyzing the results, they found that “men were significantly more efficient than women, even after controlling for the effects of strategy,” the researchers said in a statement

The analysts discovered that men were more likely to take shortcuts to reach their destination, while women were more likely to follow learned routes and wander. They said wandering suggested that someone does not have enough information about a certain area. 

However, they did note their results were based on the average performance between men and women, and some women were just as good at directions as men. 

Although the researchers are still exploring why there are differences between the sexes, they said it “may be related to the difference in the ability to learn the layout of an environment with a given amount of experience.”

They also listed video games as a possible factor. 

“It is also possible that the sex difference in efficiency is due in part to facility with the interface or navigation in virtual environments, as men tend to spend more time playing video games,” they wrote.

They now hope to continue their investigations to examine how people navigate real environments versus virtual ones. 

Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers

At least eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, according to a report from CNN. The women said the behavior happened on and off movie sets.

>> Read more trending news 

Freeman is an Academy Award-winning actor, but he's also a business owner in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Two blocks around the corner from Ground Zero, the blues club Morgan Freeman owns, WHBQ-TV met with Celia Bobo. Bobo and  Morgan Freeman have been friends for two decades, and she said she does not believe the accusations.

"I find it hard to believe. I mean, I have known Morgan for many years," Bobo said. "Morgan has been nothing but a southern gentleman in my presence and the presence of my three daughters," she said

A number of Freeman's accusers said he "repeatedly (behaved) in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two even said they were subjected to unwanted touching, according to the CNN report.

Bobo told WHBQ she believes Morgan Freeman might actually be the victim in this case.

"With the current situation of the sexual harassment, I think it has become easier for a lot of people to say they have been sexually abused or harassed," Bobo said.

She said she believes the women who are accusing Morgan Freeman of misconduct are doing it to “show out.”

"He is a great guy, and I have been around him in many different circumstances."

>> Related: Morgan Freeman apologizes after 8 women accuse him of inappropriate behavior

In a statement released Thursday, Morgan Freeman apologized.

"Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would willingly offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," Freeman said in the statement. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected -- that was never my intent."

Police: Driver finds gun stuck in front of his car

Police said a driver on I-5 saw a "black object" moving through the air and, when he pulled over miles later, near Lakewood, Washington, he found a gun stuck in the front of his car. 

>> Read more trending news

The driver continued for about 18 miles after the object struck his car, and then stopped for gas, Washington Trooper Guy Gill said. 

Photos show a gun lodged into the front of the driver’s car. 

“This is a first,” Gill said, tweeting the photo. 

The gun was recovered and turned over to Lakewood police.  

Scientists worry brain-wasting ‘zombie deer’ disease could spread to humans

Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animal’s nervous system, and scientists are concerned that the infection could spread to humans. 

>> Read more trending news 

Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada, as well as in South Korea and Norway, NPR reported.

“CWD passes from animal to animal through prions, misfolded proteins that cause other proteins to misfold around them,” NPR reported.

“Different prion diseases tend to only harm certain species, but can evolve to overcome those limitations.”

In some herds, as many as half of the animals carry prions.

But direct contact isn’t the only way prions are transmitted. According to the New York Times, sick animals and cadavers can spread prions through plants and soil, which could be coated with deformed proteins for years, perhaps even decades.

>> Related: Here’s why monkeys have been sexually interacting with deer, study says

An animal infected with the disease can live two years before signs of symptoms, such as a vacant stare, thick saliva, exposed ribs, or drooping heads, become visible.

There have been no reported human illnesses due to the disease, and scientists don’t have conclusive evidence that infected meat has ever harmed people, suggesting a “species barrier” between humans and deer.

But wildlife authorities in Colorado and Pennsylvania are pushing for hunting regulations to fight the spread of the disease among their local deer populations, according to the Denver Post.

But a recent study from January raised concerns.

Researchers led by Mark Zabel, associate director at Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center, found that macaque monkeys who ate infected deer contracted the disease, the first time the disease was shown to spread to a primate through meat.

"While most research shows there's a robust species barrier, this recent study showed that barrier might not be quite as robust as we once thought," Matt Dunfee, head of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance in Fort Collins, Colorado, told NPR.

>> Related: Cobb workers rescue a deer found inside a water treatment tank

Zabel and his team also found that the prions involved in the “zombie disease,” which scientists have only known about for 50 years, are probably still evolving, “which leads us to believe it's only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans,” NPRreported.

Mad cow disease, for example, is a prion disease that rooted from scrapie, a deadly disease that afflicts sheep. Once the prions were passed to cows, the cows developed a prion disease of their own (mad cow disease). And when humans ate the beef from those sick cows, they developed prions in their own brains. As of 2016, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 231 people had died from the condition.

Zabel believes the only way to get rid of CWD prions is to set controlled fires. But, “there’s a lot that we still don’t know and don’t understand about the disease,” Zabel said in an interview with the New York Times.

According to Michael Miller, senior wildlife veterinarian for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer submission more than tripled toward the end of 2017, and CWD continues to be prevalent in Colorado.

Public health officials in the area have been monitoring for CWD and other human brain-wasting diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But over the past 21 years, rising rates of both diseases haven’t impacted human health.

>> Related: Killer herpes from Florida monkeys could pass to humans, scientists warn

Still, Dunfee told NPR, "if you are hunting in an area where CWD is found, have your animal tested. If it comes back positive, don't eat the meat."

Teen charged in crash that killed 3, including a baby: ‘I never saw anyone coming’

A metro Atlanta teenager who is charged in a crash that killed three people, including a 3-month-old baby, said she was looking at the road at the time of the deadly incident.

>> Read more trending news 

"I never saw anyone coming,” Zoe Reardon, 18, told WSB-TV. “My eyes were on the road,” she said.

Reardon faces eight misdemeanor charges that include vehicular homicide and the use of an electronic communication device under the age of 18 in connection with the Sept. 9 crash in Woodstock, Georgia.

Reardon's attorney, Manny Arora, told WSB his client texted her dad about dinner two minutes before the deadly accident. At the time, she was stopped in traffic elsewhere, he said.

However, investigators say Reardon "failed to exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle ... and engaged in the action of putting away her cellular telephone which distracted her," a point the teen disputes. 

“I wasn't doing anything,” she said.

>> Related: Teen charged in crash that killed hurricane evacuee, baby

Kaitlin Marie Hunt, 28, her baby Riley and family friend Kathy Deming, 61, of Marietta, were hit by Reardon’s SUV about 8 p.m. while trying to cross Arnold Mill Road, according to the sheriff’s office.

Riley died that night.

Days later, Hunt and Deming died.

Hunt, a Marietta native who was with the Coast Guard in Florida, had come to metro Atlanta to escape Hurricane Irma.

I see my family’s hurt, my parents' hurt,” Reardon said. “I can only imagine their families’ hurt must be four times what we’re going through.” 

Arora said investigators earlier told her family they saw no basis for charges. 

"No crosswalk and these people happen to be crossing, and she happened to be driving, and it's just tragic," Arora said.

Cherokee County Solicitor General Jessica Moss said she never told anyone there would be no charges.

>> Related: Florida mother who fled to metro Atlanta dies days after baby

Zoe Reardon told WSB that she is a straight-A student who has a partial scholarship to Southern Methodist University in Texas. But she now has the charges from the crash to deal with, and thinks of family members of the crash victims.

"I pray for the hearts,” she said, “and I pray for their healing."

Kroger just bought Home Chef for $200 million: 5 other major changes to expect

Kroger Co. is buying Home Chef, the country’s largest private meal kit company, in deal that could reach $700 million, according to the Cincinnati-based grocery chain.

>> Read more trending news 

The initial transaction price is $200 million and future payments of up to $500 million over five years are contingent on achieving certain sales goals, the company said. The pending merger comes on the heels of Home Chef’s 150 percent growth in 2017, $250 million in revenue, and two profitable quarters, according to Kroger.

Kroger has approximately 6,000 workers in the Dayton area where they have invested over $160 million in new storing, remodels and fuel centers in the past 10 years, according to Tim Brown, president of Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division.

It’s not the only recent change that Kroger has made to transform the customer shopping experience. Here are five other things that Kroger has tried out in the past year:

1. No more waiting? Kroger looks to eliminate checkout lanes

The Cincinnati-headquartered grocery chain will roll out its “Scan, Bag, Go” service to 400 stores in 2018, according to Business Insider. Shoppers can avoid long checkout lines by scanning barcodes of items they want to buy using a handheld scanner or through Kroger’s “Scan, Bag, Go” app on any smartphone.

2. Kroger expands organic brand offerings

Cincinnati-headquartered Kroger, in partnership with Fair Trade USA, announced today that its Simple Truth brand will expand in 2018 to offer more Fair Trade Certified productsThe Simple Truth brand’s current portfolio of Fair Trade products spans multiple commodities, including coffee, cocoa, coconut, tea, sugar and agave.

3. Kroger sells off convenience store business for $2.15B

Kroger has sold off its convenience store business unite to EG Group for approximately $2.15 billion. EG Group, a privately-held petrol forecourt convenience store retailer in the United Kingdom, agreed to purchase the chain form Kroger. The deal includes 784 stores operating across 18 states, including 66 franchise locations.

4. Kroger to roll out digital aisle displays that connect to smartphones

Kroger is changing how customers will shop in stores with new digital aisle displays that connect and interact with smartphones. The Cincinnati-based grocery retailer is rolling out new technology called Kroger Edge in nearly 200 stores in 2018. The technology will be installed on store shelves where paper price tags currently hang.

5. Kroger reportedly exploring other partnerships, acquisitions

Home Chef isn’t the first acquisition that Kroger has reportedly explored in the past year. Customers could expect more acquisitions to occur if reports are true. Kroger reportedly has conversations with Chinese e-commerce and technology company Alibaba earlier this year about a potential partnership.

They’ve also reportedly had conversations about a partnership with Overstock.com, and online retailer Boxed Wholesale allegedly rejected Kroger’s $400 million buyout offer in March. It’s clear Kroger is open to pursing new ventures with online companies.

Family: 15-year-old’s skull fractured in ‘body slam’ by school security officer

An Alabama teenager is recovering from a fractured skull that his family says he suffered Monday when a school resource officer at his high school “body-slammed” him headfirst onto concrete. 

Steven Franklin, 15, of Huntsville, was left in the intensive care unit following the incident, which took place at Jemison High School, WHNT News 19 in Huntsville reported. Along with the cracked skull, Franklin suffered internal bleeding and required emergency surgery, according to family friend Zach Finey. 

“There’s swelling on the right side of his head that’s about the size of a cantaloupe,” said Finey, a volunteer with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program who is Franklin’s “big brother.”

“He body-slammed Steven on the side of his temple, onto the concrete, and at that time Steve had a seizure that we’ve been told lasted about 30 seconds,” Finey told the news station

WAAY-TV obtained photos of the teen in the hospital that show the swelling to his head and what appears to be about 60 staples closing his scalp following surgery.  

>> Read more trending news

Finey said the teen does not remember the incident, but that the boy’s friends told his family the school resource officer was attempting to break up a fight and stepped in after another student threw punches at Franklin. 

AL.com reported that cellphone camera footage shows a portion of the fight, as well as the aftermath of Franklin being injured. The teen could be seen lying on the ground with the security guard standing over him. 

The alleged actions of the guard were not caught on camera, the news site reported

Police investigators are looking into the incident, a Huntsville Police Department spokesman confirmed to AL.com. Huntsville City Schools is also investigating what happened.

Keith Ward, a school district spokesman, said that the security officer, who is a contract employee, would remain off-campus through the end of the school year. According to the school calendar, Thursday was the last day of classes. 

Finey on Wednesday afternoon credited the media with putting pressure on the school district to answer questions about what happened to Franklin. 

“We are still a long way away from getting answers, and Steven has a long road of recovery, but the first steps have now been taken, thanks to you all,” Finey wrote on Facebook

He told AL.com and WHNT that the teen’s condition had begun to improve. 

“He’s actually being moved from ICU to a regular room,” Finey told AL.com. "He’s walked for the first time. He's started to ask questions about what happened. He doesn’t remember what happened, just waking up after his surgery.”

Finey told WHNT that Franklin has been distraught since finding out what happened. He and his family are also worried about the long-term effects of his injury. 

“It’s sad when you see how sad and depressed he’s getting when he’s realizing, ‘What has happened to me? And why did it happen?’” Finey said. “And he wants to know just as much as his mother and his family, his friends.”

No charges filed after 1-year-old dies in hot pickup truck outside Nashville home

Police said no charges will be filed after a 1-year-old girl died after being left in a hot pickup truck all day Wednesday outside the family’s home in east Nashville.

Metro Nashville police said that investigators believe the girl’s adoptive father left her in the truck “unintentionally,” WZTV reports

>> Read more trending news 

The girl has been identified as 1-year-old Katera Barker. 

Police said Barker’s adoptive father reportedly forgot that she was still in the car after he dropped her 5-year-old sibling off at day care.

WZTV reports that the father left the family’s home around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, dropped the 5-year-old off at day care and arrived back home around 8 a.m. He allegedly left the home about five minutes later and took a ride share to the airport to catch a flight for a business trip.

Police said that the girl’s adoptive mother went to pick up the kids from daycare after she got off work and realized that Barker was never dropped off. 

According to WZTV, the woman called her husband and realized the child was still in the car.

When she arrived home, the woman pulled the girl out of the car, called 911 and performed CPR on the child until paramedics arrived.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Nashville reached a high of 89 degrees, meaning the inside of the truck could have reached nearly 120 degrees.

Police said Barker was pronounced dead when she arrived at Vanderbilt Hospital. 

WHNS reports that the girl’s adoptive father flew back into Nashville that night after discovering what happened. Investigators said the man and his wife have been cooperative with police.

Giant hammerhead worm invasion could pose threat to France

Five invasive worm species have been detected in parts of France and its territories, sometimes in groups of hundreds in a single location.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal PeerJ, which spans reports of sightings dating back to 1999.

Lead author Jean-Lou Justine of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris was stunned to see the first photo of the creatures, which he described as giant worms with a shovel-shaped head.

“We do not have that in France,” he told the Washington Post. The worms are actually native to Asia and its warmer weather.

At first, Justine thought the gardener who sent him the photo, Pierre Gros, was playing some kind of prank. But the two eventually paired up for the study and discovered several species of flatworm in metropolitan France.

They studied 111 records and observations of the worms from 1999 to 2017.

>> Related: Invasive flatworm that secretes toxic slime, found in new part of Florida

“The invaders are giant hammerhead flatworms — brightly colored specimens that look like earthworms on steroids,” Live Science wrote about the species, two of which are part of the Diversibipalium genus. According to the study, these are probably newfound species.

The land flatworms, which produce unpleasant-tasting chemicals that keep predators at bay, can have an effect on soil ecology and plant life cycles by preying on organisms that live in soil.

The muscular worms measure about 1 foot or 40 centimeters in length and typically consume earthworms and other invertebrate prey.

“As invasive predators, [giant flatworms] are likely to be a threat to the abundance and biodiversity of the soil invertebrates,” Justine told Live Science. 

>> Related: 5-foot tapeworm wiggled out of California man after eating sushi

While they’re not the most exciting worms creatures out there, flatworms are capable of regenerating, “even from snipped-off fragments that represent 1/300th of the worm’s body,” according to Live Science. They also reproduce asexually and can quickly produce many offspring.

The five non-native species identified in Justine’s study were distributed in mainland France, as well as the Caribbean French islands, French Polynesia and French Guiana.

According to entomologist Archie Murchie of Britain’s Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, who was not involved in the research, the worms are likely to continue to spread “with increased global trade,” he told the Washington Post. “The species are cryptic and soil-dwelling so can be easily overlooked, which often explains their inadvertent shipment round the world.”

>> Related: Woman says she found worm in fish bought at Costco

In Ireland and Scotland, Murchie said invasive New Zealand flatworms ate so many earthworms that it “yields of agricultural grass in affected areas shrank by about 6 percent,” the Post reported.

“The authors are rightly cautious about the potential impact of the hammerhead flatworms,” Murchie said.

What You Need To Know: Chelsy Davy

What You Need To Know: Chelsy Davy
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